Last night we took the night train from Melbourne to Sydney. We’d always known coming into Australia that we would be here in winter and the colder weather might “dictate” our plans. And sure enough, it was getting too cold down south.
So, after a lovely four day rest in Melbourne, we boarded the evening train for the 11-hour ride to Sydney where we would transfer to a suburban train to our final destination of New Castle.
The train ride was better than I had expected. Once the lights were dimmed about 10:00 pm everyone in our car fell asleep. Well almost everyone. The Eastern European couple sitting across the aisle from us speaking a foreign language loud enough to hear through our headphones didn’t get the “hint” that “lights out” is synonymous with “hush”. Finally, about 11:30pm Eric tersely said “Stop Talking!” Which they understood. And, they did. And we slept. And the next thing we knew we were pulling into Sydney Central Station.
After two Krispy Creme donuts (they compliment that greasy “I’ve been on a train all night” feeling), a bacon and egg muffin, and a large black coffee each, we felt sugared and caffeinated enough to hold our heads high through the numerous stares of fellow backpackers, people who’d slept all night on the floor at the train station, and Queen’s birthday revelers. Here we were: two middle aged cyclists – dragging our bike boxes and panniers a few feet – a 100 pounds of stuff, stopping for breaths and then continuing the spectacle down one elevator, underneath 15 train platforms, up another elevator and along the sidewalk to the bus stop.
I know you’re wondering why we didn’t just reassemble our bikes and ride them. I was wondering the same thing, too. But I was trusting the expertise of the New South Wales (NSW) Train Ticket Agent.
Me: Should we leave our bikes in the box or can we assemble them for the train to New Castle.
NSW: There is no train to New Castle. You’ll have to take the bus.
Me: What about our bikes!?
NSW: I don’t know. You probably can’t put your bikes on the bus.
Me: Here’s our ticket to New Castle that shows we have bikes. We bought this in Melbourne.
NSW: I don’t know. You should probably leave them in the box and talk to the driver.
Me: Where is the driver?
NSW: Just down that hall and turn. It’s not more than a 15-minute walk.
As disgruntled duo, we continued on our awkward, stare-inducing, slow-paced slog to the bus stop.
During this walk, I was mentally writing the CEO of NSW Trains to
b. offer suggestions about communication regarding train service disruptions to ALL stations
c. demand a refund for our $12.00 ticket plus a pre-booked hotel in New Castle
d. put our bikes together and ride two days to New Castle.
e. all of the above
Lucky for me, Eric could sense that I was about to open a flood gate of tears. Lack of sleep and dealing with bureaucracies can do this to me. He pointed to the sign that said “train/coach” to NewCastle. The bus driver got the hint and rearranged some suitcases creating a space for our boxes and bags.
And….the best part of the day…..warmer weather and sunshine. New Castle is a beautiful place!